Book Review – Silent Hill Comics (Part II) by Tom Waltz

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Paranormal
Demographic: Older Teen / Adult
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Publisher: IDW Publishing

I am a pretty hardcore Silent Hill fanatic. So much that it tires others, in fact.
To me, the series is an interactive artwork combined with the nuance of a novel’s characterization. Sure, it’s got quirks and bad entries on its belt but I don’t care. I genuinely don’t understand how you could enjoy horror or surrealism and not love something about Silent Hill.

As I said in my review of Omnibus I, the early comics are a terrible place to begin the series but I’m also hesitant to recommend them to fans because they barely share a canon and make some rather… interesting alterations…
Omnibus II is a squillion times better than I, on the other hand, so I’m comfortable recommending these to anyone. These are fantastic and do the series justice. A little odd storywise, but the dialogue is good and the art is godlike in places. (Or devil-like? Whichever you prefer…) The physical books of the omnibuses do not match, which is irritating but minor.

A quick rundown and my thoughts on each:

Continue reading “Book Review – Silent Hill Comics (Part II) by Tom Waltz”

Book Review – Silent Hill Comics (Part I) by Scott Ciencin

★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Paranormal
Demographic: Older Teen / Adult
Publication Date: October 14th, 2008
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Silent Hill is one of my eternal favourite video game series. The original quartet in my opinion is something of a “heaven experience” – beautiful but tense. It is the closest I feel we’ve come to an interactive nightmare that anyone could have right in their living room. The fact that everyone interprets the quartet so differently and yet tends to love it dearly the same can attest to that. It’s strangely personal for a lot of people, something a video game doesn’t typically manage. Why is this, do you think?

Silent Hill is entertaining first and foremost, but it was also an (underappreciated) innovator in serious, mature themes for the medium and dealt heavily with religious abuse, depression, childhood trauma and suicide with a thin coat of surreal horror. Plus the format gives a sense of venturing into someone else’s inner, secret dreams and decoding them. It catches people off-guard, in the best way.

If you’re familiar with Silent Hill already, then you’re aware there can be a lot of… iffiness with its spin-offs. At best, you get something rare and amazing like Shattered Memories, and at worst you get an endless stream of pachinko machines coming out your ears.

The comics are a mixed bag but far from unholy. The second omnibus is loads better, but the first omnibus does have consistently good art and a few interesting stories.
If you are not familiar with it and thinking the comics would be a place to begin Silent Hill‘s story, that may not be a good idea. Unless you just love horror comics for what they are and want to try them out for that reason, the original quartet or the first film would be worlds better. Shattered Memories or Origins wouldn’t be bad either.

You can in fact go into the first omnibus not knowing anything about the series at all and it won’t make much difference. I promise. Omnibus II has somewhat to do with the series’ canon, but these comics included in I eschew it.

My general consensus with Omnibus I is that it’s frustrating but readable. They totally ignored everything established by the series. Despite having full rights to do whatever they wanted!
However… the art is impressionistic and often pretty, and if you ignore that it’s supposed to be Silent Hill they are much better as stand-alone comics. The short stories in the middle are really fun. The physical book is also of very high quality materials.

Now that I’ve rambled on forever, here’s a quick rundown of each:

Continue reading “Book Review – Silent Hill Comics (Part I) by Scott Ciencin”

Book Review – The Damned, Vol. 2 by Cullen Bunn

★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Full Title: The Damned, Vol. 2: Ill-Gotten
Genre: Horror / Mystery
Demographic: Older Teen / Adult
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: April 17th, 2018

This series is growing on me like a pair of horns. A more intense brand of darkness than the first volume, Ill-Gotten continues the seedy intrigues of demonic gangsters and a man, Eddie, who is cursed to die and be revived repeatedly, always at the cost of innocents.

While the previous entry was largely backstory and prelude, the second digs its teeth into the rotten meat of the underside, both the writing and characterization more vivid, gritty and gruesomely decadent this go around. Their dichotomous world of wealth and grime is a bit more developed, and the nature of its curses becomes more clear.

The idea is something fresh, successfully intermixing paranormal horror and 1920’s gang drama, and the art is clean and stylish, reminiscent of both classic American comics and the dark, chiaroscuro work of Mike Mignola. I recommend highly.

Art – 5/5
Story – 4.5/5
Characterization – 4/5
General – 4.5/5

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

[Read my review of the first volume here.]

Book Review – Black Comix Returns by John Jennings

★★★★★ 4.5 Stars

Stylish, vibrant and extremely diverse mix of artists and graphic novelists – for an art or comics enthusiast it’s like being a kid in a candy store. Or I guess I should say an art supply store.
This collection features mostly indie artists, but of all mediums – digital or traditional, cartoon or realistic, full colour or monochrome, you name it.

While it’s true of any multi-artist gallery that some of the styles won’t be my favourites, I can’t deny that everyone in here has buckets of talent. Seriously, the work here is pure, gleaming eye candy and is fantastic. I also thought the essays featured were well-written, as well as important – especially the one regarding diversity and artists, and that while it’s vital to have diversity in fiction, it’s even more vital to have diversity with its creators.

But just to add, it’s not a book of short stories. They do talk about the books these artists have worked on or written, but there aren’t many full comics featured. Most of the comics are snippets from larger works. That’s not to say they aren’t lovely, though.

I received a free copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – The Damned, Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn

★★★★ 4 Stars

Full Title: The Damned, Vol. 1: Three Days Dead
Genre: Horror / Mystery
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: April 20th, 2010

Bizarre occult noir at its best with sleek, chiaroscuro art. A mobster who is cursed to always be reanimated after he dies is caught in the midst of a gang war between demons.

The Damned is a creative cross-breeding of lurkers in the dark, 1920’s gangster film aesthetics and a grungy urban underbelly. The mystery is fast-paced and intriguing, if a little disjointed – at first it can be hard to keep up with what’s going on, but this smooths out nicely and in short time.

I love especially how it’s drawn, notably the scene where Eddie meets The Worm in the sewer. The art is clean-lined yet gruesome, and is reminiscent of old-school American comics.
There isn’t much bad to say, but like I mentioned, early on the story and figuring out who’s who is mildly confusing.

Art – 5/5
Story – 4/5
Characterization – 4/5
General – 4/5

 [I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]